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30 May 2014

Dust in the wind

A HUGE sandstorm hit New Delhi late this afternoon, swathing the city in layers of fallen trees―and my flat in sheets of dust. Like most of my experiences in Delhi, this is the first time I've encountered this. I was still in the office when it happened. As my office is in the basement, I can hardly see anything happening outside, so I thought it was a thunderstorm when I heard the lashing and the beating. The air was eerily calm and the skies were gray when I stepped out.

From monkeys and mosquitoes to sand and scorch, my dogs and I don't seem to run out of heart-pounding things to see (and hear) (and smell) (and swat) in this blustering city.

09 May 2014

Monkey see

THREE MEAN-looking rhesus monkeys were standing at the hallway outside my flat when I stepped out. They were staring at me menacingly, probably waiting for me to make the first move. I didn't. I fled back inside the house and locked the door. A few minutes later, I went out and saw them still in the same location, in the same position. It took a while for them to move, and when they did, I ran downstairs for the car park.

In recent years, thousands of rhesus macaque monkeys have swarmed over urban India. In Delhi, these wild monkeys have had mean encounters with humans when they look for food, especially during the hot summer months. There have been reports of them breaking into houses; in 2007, a deputy mayor fell to his death from his terrace while trying to fend off an attack from these marauders.

However, not much has been done to permanently give these monkeys a sanctuary. Monkeys are revered by Hindus as incarnations of Hanuman, the monkey god, so culling them has not been successful. Recently, larger langur monkeys were used by trained "monkey catchers" to scare the rhesus away, but such practice has been banned by the national wildlife authorities.

Hopefully, it will be my first and last monkey encounter at home―or any other place―in Delhi. I have no business for monkey business in this troubling city.